COPD :: Statement of Dr. Norman H. Edelman, Chief Medical Officer, American Lung Association, On COPD

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America, claiming the lives of 122,283 Americans in 2003. It is a term used to describe the obstruction of airflow associated primarily with emphysema and chronic bronchitis. While COPD cannot be cured, it can be treated.

Smoking is the primary cause of COPD. About 90 percent of COPD cases are caused by smoking. Other risk factors include air pollution, secondhand smoke, history of childhood respiratory infections, and heredity. This is the fourth consecutive year in which women have exceeded men in the number of deaths attributed to COPD. In 2003, approximately 63,062 females died compared to 59,321 males.

We need to expand the awareness of a quiet killer. Early detection and the development of new therapies can improve health outcomes and help millions of people with COPD live longer, healthier lives.

To date, many key initiatives have made significant progress in addressing the burden of COPD. These include the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines for the effective diagnosis and management of COPD, the annual World COPD Day, and the World Health Organization?s (WHO) recently announced Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases (GARD).

As many as 24 million U.S. adults have evidence of impaired lung function indicating an under diagnosis of COPD.

The American Lung Association is committed to improving COPD diagnosis, care and prevention. We are dedicated to raising awareness and increasing efforts to address the growing impact COPD is set to have on global health.

The American Lung Association urges government to:

Increase access to early and accurate diagnosis, leading to effective management and treatment for all patients with COPD
Increase awareness and understanding of COPD and its co-morbidities among:
Healthcare professionals, providers, patients and advocacy groups
Through increased research into the causes and consequences of optimal management of COPD
Through increased education programs for healthcare professionals, patients and the public
About the American Lung Association
Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other major causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association fights lung disease and promotes lung health through advocacy, research and education. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is ?Improving life, one breath at a time.”

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